Manziel Should Start Playoff Hunt, Hoyer Reality Check

“We’re 7-5,” Hoyer said Monday, one day after he was replaced in the fourth quarter by Johnny Manziel in a 26-10 loss to Buffalo. “That just doesn’t happen by luck. It was hard-earned and we’ve worked to get where we’re at. And we’re still in it.

“With those other teams [Pittsburgh and Baltimore] losing yesterday, we have four more games; two of them are division games. You don’t get to 7-5 in the NFL just by lucking into it.”

Hoyer said he also feels he’s established himself as an NFL starter. “We’re 7-5 here,” he said. “We won three games last year when I started; 10-5 as a starting quarterback, that’s not bad.”

Brian Hoyer hasn’t played good football all season long, for the most part. Winning or not, he was not an adequate quarterback and often, is a liability. I get it, he is clinging to his job after winning 3 games in 2013, before he got hurt and missed the rest of the season. He has definitely had his opportunities in 2014, 7-5 is good enough to stay in the playoff hunt, it just doesn’t scream franchise QB. Not to get too off base here, but Trent Dilfer was on the Super Bowl Ravens, he was barely an average-ranked quarterback in his day. The same can be argued about Joe Flacco or Eli Manning, also champions. The list can go on, Hoyer’s statements are blinded full of denial, and it doesn’t seem like he’s watched much film, nor is objective about his mediocre production and abilities.

That is why Johnny Manziel was drafted in the back end of the first round. The Buffalo Bills are no slouches, another 7-5 team with an elite defense, that is what Johnny Football was thrust into. He guided a scoring drive after replacing Hoyer, who threw a pair of picks and couldn’t get the ball to Josh Gordon. In fact, he’s stunted the passing game all season, just when Andrew Hawkins was breaking out in the slot. Rookie Taylor Gabriel made some plays here and there, but they’ve been a running team because Hoyer just isn’t the guy. In fact, they should be worse than 7-5 and have won in spite of Hoyer. He’s thrown only 11 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, completing only 56% of his passes. In the last 2 games, Hoyer’s thrown no scores and 5 picks, 8 in the past 5 games. Sit him down.

That’s not to say that Manziel is a shoe-in, but as you know, a first round pick will get more than his fair share of opportunities. He should get the nod moving forward, especially since Hoyer’s contract expires after the season. Manziel subbed right into the game, leading Cleveland to their only touchdown in their 26-10 loss. Expect a roller coaster with a rookie at the helm, and definitely with a charismatic guy like him. Bottom line, Hoyer is out of Cleveland and Manziel will be under center from here on out.

My take? I think the kid can play. He brings excitement to the field, extending plays and scrambling to the second level. He’s not afraid to take a shot downfield, or sling a pass in a tight window. The stakes have always been high with Manziel, why not for his season debut and starting nods for the final 4 games, with the Browns in playoff contention. If worse comes to worse, Cleveland will remain a one-dimensional running team, as they were with Hoyer. Manziel’s mobility opens the offense up to read-options, bootlegs, and rollouts. I think he will show on the field, that his playmaking ability will be able to overcome the growing pain mistakes at times.

Gordon is back. Jordan Cameron should be nearing a return. Gabriel and Hawkins are still there, and hopefully Miles Austin can recover from his spleen situation soon. Austin was starting to benefit from playing on the field with Gordon at the same time. They already have the rookie backfield of Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West, they jus need to focus on ball security as they’ve literally carried the load. The Browns are a couple games over .500, that’s a win in terms of preseason goals. So, now that they are in the thick of the AFC playoff picture, why can’t the underdogs reach the tournament for the first time in a dozen years? The Dog Pound believes, led by HEad Coach Mike Pettine. Kyle Shanahan is calling the shots on offense, you bet he will incorporate some things he ran with Robert Griffin in the Redskins’ 2012 playoff campaign.

AFC North: Bengals 8-3-1, Ravens 7-5, Steelers 7-5, Browns 7-5

AFC Wildcard: Chargers 8-4, Chiefs 7-5, Bills 7-5, Ravens 7-5, Steelers 7-5, Browns 7-5, Dolphins 6-5 (play tonight at Jets), Texans 6-6

Browns Schedule: vs Colts, vs Bengals, at Panthers, at Ravens